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Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam

The museum (Islam Bilim ve Teknoloji Tarihi Müzesi, IBTTM) is situated in Gulhane Park and opened its doors in 2008.

History of the museum

Virtual Tour

 

Ibn al-Haytham

Ibn al-Haytham (965-1041), born in Basra (Iraq) made great progress in understanding the phenomenon of light. With experimental setups he examined the reflection of light in mirrors, not only flat, but also in curved or cone-shaped mirrors.

YouTube: Apparatus for the Observation of the Reflection of Light

 

 

 

 

 

Ibn al-Haytham and the Apparatus for the Observation of the Reflection of Light

In October 2021, the Second International Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Symposium on the History of Science in Islam will be held in Istanbul. As in 2019, it is my wish to present a new paper and a new workshop on the optics of Ibn al-Haytham. In 2021, I would like to focus on

  • Ibn al-Haythams apparatus which gave experimental proof of the law of reflection.
  • Ibn al-Haythams description of the shape of a solar eclipse through a pinhole in a camera obscura
  • 2021 proposal

    My aim is to develop a hands-on classroom lesson series using a low-cost 3D-printed apparatus to bring the optics of Ibn al-Haytham alive.

  • prototype

    We developed a prototype of the apparatus.

  • catalogue

    The concept is based on drawings from the catalogue of the collection of instruments of the Institute for the History of Arabic and Islamic Sciences, published by Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin.

  • experiment

    We do have proof that the experiment delivers the result Ibn al-Haytham described.

  • shape of the eclipse

    Ibn al-Haytham described the shape of the eclipse and understood the impact of the aperture. Applying his point-by-point analysis, he gave geometrical proof of the results.

  • sources

    A long list of literature is available on this web page, including links to online sources.

  • website Henk Hietbrink

    My personal website gives an impression of my workshop activities.

  • 2019 workshop

    The workshop has a story about Ibn al-Haytham, Leonardo da Vinci and an Italian professor. The museum exhibits an instrument. How does it work? Maybe you should try it yourself! Who was the inventor? Maybe you should read the da Vinci diagrams!

  • 2019 paper

    In The First International Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Symposium on History of Science in Islam Proceedings Book my contribution The Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam as a Source of Inspiration for Modern High School Education: An Instrument for Finding Reflection Points is included. It shows how old instruments from a museum collection can be used for inspiring education.

    The article and the presentation are on my website.

  • 2021 Bartin

    This is the link to the lecture for the students of Dr I. Aslan Seyhan from Bartin University.


     
  • 2021 The Second International Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Symposium on the History of Science in Islam

    The webssite of the The Second International Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin History of Science in Islam Symposium is expanding.

2021 Proposal

In the catalogue of the collection of instruments of the Institute for the History of Arabic and Islamic Sciences, an apparatus is mentioned for the observation of the reflection of light. The idea of the apparatus is brought forward by Ibn al-Haytham, the eleventh-century scholar who has been praised for his breakthroughs in optics as he was the first scientist who made big steps in this field since Ptolomy. The apparatus gives experimental proof of the law of reflection. In his tract on optics, Ibn al-Haytham provided his mathematical proof. The apparatus covers the basic configuration of the experiment. In his mathematics, he dealt with all kinds of situations, as I mentioned in 2019. His predecessors limited themselves to the easy case where the eye and the source of light are at the same distance of the center of a cylindrical mirror. Ibn al-Haytham solved the far more difficult general case where the light and eye are not at the same distance of the center, using a mix of practical experiments, conic sections, and rigorous mathematical proofs.

The Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam exhibits a precious new-build apparatus. Experiments with this replica were successful. One clearly sees the rays of light and the reflection of these rays in all kind of mirrors (flat, conical, spherical, etc..).

My paper discusses the mathematical and experimental works of Ibn al-Haytam and presents a lesson series. My aim is to develop a hands-on classroom lesson series using a low-cost 3D-printed apparatus to bring the optics of Ibn al-Haytham alive. The story is also about the advanced use of mathematics by Ibn al-Haytham, which goes far beyond high school mathematics. In my lecture, I would like to address the important role of the optics of Ibn al-Haytham and present an outline of that lesson series. Afterward, in a workshop, the apparatus and the lesson series can be demonstrated.

 

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Design of our prototype

Our design is ready, waiting for a first prototype.

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Catalogue

Illustrations are from the catalogue of the collection of instruments of the Institute for the History of Arabic and Islamic Sciences.

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Experiment

Our experiment proves that this setup of the apparatus does work. Next step is to develop a low cost reliable 3D printed version of this apparatus that is suitable for classroom demonstrations. Light source will be a cellphone! So every student can do this experiment with his own device!

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Camera Obscura

In his treatise On the Shape of the Eclipse, Ibn al-Haytham investigated the image of a crescent solar eclipse through a pinhole of a camera obscura. Since 1940, a small group of authors elaborated on Ibn al-Haytham's texts, to name a few: Nazif, Sabra, Smith and Raynaud. Since the fifteenth century, Western scholars tried to master the topic but it took until the seventeenth century before their were right solutions.

Nazif presented an interesting drawing with multiple cones. In order to emphasize these cones, color is added in the right picture.

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In his critical edition of Ibn al-Haytham's Eclipse, Raynaud presented drawings from a selected number of manuscripts of Ibn al-Haytham.

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All above images show three upside down crescents, while Gemma Frisius only mentions one crescent in his book in 1545.

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One century later, in 1671, père Chérubin d' Orléans presented a drawing with three cones`, but for some reason, the straight lines are broken in the aperture. According to the text there is no lense, but the broken lines do suggest lenses.

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Mihas published his article A Historical Approach to the Teaching of the Linear Propagation of Light, Shadows and Pinhole Cameras in 2005. He presented the same three cones and a computer simulation to predict the final shape: the image of a crescent looks like a peach!

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Raynaud did computer simualations too with the same result: the image of the crescent looks more like a peach than a croisssant. My simulation shows similar results. The top rows show the crescent, the bottom row the image at 2500 mm distance and aperture diameter 11 mm.

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The image of the eclipse becomes much better with a smaller aperture of radius 1 or 2 mm.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-xQKfMWK2Y

Drawing instrument

According to the catalog of the Istanbul Museum of History of Science and Technology in Islam, the instrument was invented by Leonardo da Vinci and elaborated by the Italian professor Roberto Marcolongo.

Wikipedia: Leonardo da Vinci

Wikipedia: Roberto Marcolongo